Long Meg of Westminster

Anon. (1595)

Historical Records

Performance Records

Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 11 (Greg I.21)

ye 14 of febreary 1594
. . j . . . Res at longe mege of westmester
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijli ixs

F. 11v (Greg I.22)

ye 20 of febreary 1594 . . . . . . Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxxviijs
ye 29 of febreary 1594 Res at lange mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxviijs
ye 3 of marche 1594 Res at longe mege on sraftusdaye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijli
ye 13 of marche 1594 Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxviijs
ye 30 of aprell 1595 Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxvijs
ye 1 of maye Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ls
ye 13 of maye 1595 Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxviijs

Fol. 12v (Greg I.24)

ye 19 of June 1595 . . . . Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxijs
ye 28 of aguste 1594 Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxijs
[? 14 of septembʒ 1595] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvijs

Fol. 13 (Greg I.25)

ye 4 of octobʒ 1595 . . . . . . . . . Res at longe mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xjs

Fol. 25 (Greg, I.49)

ye 1 of novmbʒ 1596 Res at longe meage . . . . . . . . . . al holanday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxxvijs
ye 5 of novmbʒ 1596 . . . . . . . . |Res| at longe meage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vs

Fol. 25v (Greg, I.50)

ye 25 of novmbʒ . . . . . . . . . . . . Res at long meage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xjs

Fol. 26 (Greg, I.51)

Janewary 1597
|28| . . . . . . . . . . . tt at long mege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 — 07 — 01 — 30 — 11

Book Trade Records

Stationers' Register

18 August 1590 (CLIO, 2.559)

Thomas Gubbins ………. The life of longe MEGG of Westminster Aucthorized vnder
Thomas Newman the handes of the Bishop of London and Master Warden
Newberie vjd

27 August — 31 August 1590 (CLIO, 2.561)

Roger Ward ………. A Ballad of longe MEG of Westminster. [no sum]

14 March 1595 (CLIO, 2.293)

John Danter ………. Entred for his Copie under the handes of bothe the wardens a
ballad entitled the madd merye pranckes of Long MEGG of
Westminster vjd

13 December 1620 (CLIO, 3.44)

Master Pauier ………. Assigned ouer vnto them by Edward White and by consent of both
and John Wright the wardens all the estate the said Edward white hath in theis
twelue copies followinge ………. vjd
The history of Long MEG of Westminster

29 April 1634 (CLIO, 4.318)

Master Robert ………. Assigned ouer vnto him by vertue of a Note vnder the hand and
Bird ………. seale of John Wright and subscribed by both the wardens all his
estate right Title and interest in these 6. Copies following iijs
The history of Long MEG of Westminster

Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's players introduced "Long Meg of Westminster" on 14 February 1595. It was kept in performance through 4 October, thus spanning the spring and fall seasons of 1595. Over that period, it received 12 performances and returned receipts to Henslowe averaging more than 34s. After a hiatus of thirteen months, "Long Meg" returned to the stage at the Rose on 1 November 1596 for four performances through 28 January 1597; for this short revival, it returned an average of 18s. per performance to Henslowe. Curiously, at its February 1595 debut, "Long Meg" was marked with "j" in the spot where Henslowe more commonly placed "ne." Its story has numerous episodes, but there is no hint of a second part in references to the play.

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy (?) (Harbage); Citizen History ? (While there are comedic moments in the chapbook narrating Long Meg's adventures, there is patriotism too in her support of the king's war; further complicating an assignment of genre, there is a somewhat uncomfortable decline in her fortunes in that after she retires she runs a house of questionable repute in Islington.)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

It is likely that a prose tract such as The Life of Long Meg of Westminster was the narrative source of the play. The Gubbins-Newman text registered on 18 August 1590 does not survive in print, nor does the ballad printed within a week. Later printings in 1635 and 1750 do survive, and it is reasonable to assume that they reflect the early narrative well enough. By 1750 the title of the chapbook had changed slightly to The Life and Pranks of Long Meg of Westminster; shorter than the 1635 version, the 1750 has other minor differences.

The Life of Long Meg of Westminster (1635)

The earliest surviving copy of Meg's adventures is apparently the edition Robert Bird acquired on 29 April 1634 and subsequently reprinted (1635). The title page carries a lengthy sub-title: "... containing the mad merry pranks she played in her lifetime, not only in performing sundry quarrels with divers ruffians about London but also how valiantly she behaued her self in the wars of Bolloingne" (Life). A preface "To the Gentlemen Readers" recommends Long Meg and her adventures as a pleasant diversion but does not allude a play based on her narrative. Associating the stories with jest books, the preface advertises Meg as "a woman ... of late memory, and well beloued, spoken on of all, and knowne of many" and therefore likely of interest to the reader (Life). Chapter titles of Meg's eighteen adventures (or pranks) are as follows (phrasing for the table of content differs slightly):

  1. Containeth where she was borne, how she came vp to London, and how she beate the Carrier.
  2. :Containing how he placed her in Westminster, and what she did at her placing.
  3. Containing how she vsed one of the Vicars of the Church, that sung Masse, and how she made him pay his score.
  4. :Containing the merry skirmish that was betweene her and Sir James of Castile a Spanish Knight, and what was the end of their combat.
  5. :Containing the courtesie shee used towards Souldiers, and other men that carried good minds.
  6. Containing how she used the Baily of Westminster, that came into her Mistresses house, and arrested one of her friends.
  7. :Containing how she used Woolner the singing man of Windsor, that was the great eater, and how she made him pay for his breakfast.
  8. :Containing a merry Iest, how shee met a Nobleman, and how she vsed both him and the watch.
  9. :Containing how Meg went a shroving, and as shee came home how she fought with the Theeues at S. Iames corner, and helpt Father Willis the Carrier to his hundred Markes again.
  10. Containing how Harry the Oastler was presst, how she vsed the Constable and Captaine, and how she tooke press-money to goe to Bulloigne.
  11. Containing how she beat the French-men from the walls of Bulloigne, and behaued her self so valiantly, that the King gaue her eight pence a day for her life.
  12. Containing the combat shee had with a French-man before the walls of Bulloigne, and what was the issue of the combat.
  13. Containing her coming into England, how she was married, and how she behaued herselfe to her husband.
  14. Containing a pleasant jest, how she vsed the angry Miller of Epping in Essex.
  15. Containing the mad prank shee played with a Water-man of Lambeth.
  16. Containing how she kept a house at Islington, and what lawes she had there to be obserued.
  17. Containing how she vsed Iames Dickins, that was called huffing Dicke.
  18. Containing how she was sick, and visited by a Frier, who enjoyned her penance; and what absolution she gaue him after for his paines.
Meg with her Laundry Paddle

The Life and Death of Long Meg of Westminster (1750)

There are illustrations in various eighteenth-century editions of Long Meg's story (as here, "Meg with her Laundry Paddle" [title page] and "Meg beats the carrier [episode #1]). However, the text was shortened; in the 1750 edition from which these illustrations were taken, episodes #5, #7, #15, !6, and #18 above are missing (EEBO). Meg's mad pranks, remaining popular, turned up in story collections such as The Ballad-singers Basket. A Choice Collection of Pretty Pennyworths (1750). In such collections, story matter also appropriated for stage plays in the early modern period shared space with Long Meg's exploits (for example, the seven wise masters, John Mandeville, Hercules, and Patient Grissel).
Meg beats Willis the Carrier

References to the Play

Dramatic Literature

Thomas Dekker, Satiromastix, S. R. 11 November 1601; Q1602

The Widow Miniver: "Hang thee patch-pannell, I am none a thy Charing-cross: I scorne to be Crosse to such a scab as thou makst thy self."
Tucca: "No, 'tis thou makst me so, my Long Meg a Westminster, thou breedst a scab, thou — ...
I say Mary Ambree, thou shalt march formost, because Ile marke how broad th'art in the heeles."
III.i.172-4, 232 (Shepherd, I.219, 221)

Thomas Dekker and John Webster, Westward Ho!, S. R. 2 March 1605, Q1607

Sir Gozlin: "What kin art thou to Long-Meg of Westminster? th'art like her."
Mistress Bird-lime: "Some-what a like Sir at a blush, nothing a kin Sir, saying in height of minde, and that she was a goodly Woman."
Gozlin: Mary Anbree, do you not know me? ..."
V.ii (Shepherd, II.349)

Thomas Heywood, Fair Maid of the West, part 1, >1610?, Q1631

Besse (the fair maid): "Me thinkes I have a manly spirit in me
Me thinkes I have a manly spirit in me
In this mans habit."
Clem (Besse’s servant, a drawer of wine): "Now am not I of many mens mindes, for if you should doe me wrong, I should not kill you, though I tooke you pissing against a wall."
Bess: "Me thinkes I could be valiant on the sudden:
And meet a man i'th field.
I could doe all that I have heard discourst
Of Mary Ambree or Westminsters Long-Meg."
Clem: "VVhat Mary Ambree was I cannot tell, but unlesse you were taller you will come short of Long Meg."
Bess: "Of all thy fellowes thee I onely trust,
And charge thee to be secret."
Clem: "I am bound in my Indentures to keepe my Masters secrets, and should I finde a man in bed with you, I would not tell."
II, p. 284-5 (Pearson ed.)

Nathan Field, Amends for Ladies, >1611, Q1618

Grace Seldome (to Moll Cut-Purse): "D'ee heare, you sword and target (to speake
in your owne key) Marie Vmbree, Long-Meg,
Thou that in thy selfe (me think'st) alone
Look'st like a rogue and a whore under a hedge:
Bawd, take your letter with you and begone,
When next you come (my Husband's Constable)
And Bridewell is hard by, y'aue a good wit,
And can conceiue."
II.i.46-53 (Peery, 178 )
Lord Proudly: "What d'ee this afternoon?"
Lord Fee-Simple: "Faith I hate a great mind to see long-megg and the ship at the Fortune."
II.i.151-3 (Peery, 181)

Robert Tailor, The Hog Hath Lost his Pearl, S. R. 23 May 1614, Q1614

Player: " ... but, I pray you, is that small matter done I entreated for?"
Haddit (a gallant): A small matter! you'll find it worth Meg of Westminster, altho; it be but a bare jig."
I.i. (Dodsley, p. 385)

Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, A Fair Quarrel, Q1617

Trimtram: Ever since guns came up: the first was your roaring Meg.
Chough: Meg? Then 'twas a woman was the first roarer.
Trimtram: Ay, afire of her touch-hole, that cost many a proper man's life since that time; and then the lions, they learned it from the gus, living so near 'em; then it was heard to the Bankside, and the bears they began to roar; then the boys got it, and so ever since there have been a company of roaring boys.
Chough: And how long will it last, thinkest thou?
Trimtram: As long as the water runs under London Bridge, or watermen at Westminster stairs.

Ben Jonson, The Fortunate Isles and their Union, 1624 (EEBO)
In this court masque, Iohphiel, "an aëry spirit," runs the show. According to the text, he is "Attired in light silks of several colours, with wings of the same, a bright yellow haire, a chaplet of flowers, blevv silke stockings, and pumps, and gloues, with a siluer fan in his hand" (A2). His foil is Mere-Foole, a shabby melancholy student. Iohphiel offers entertainments, one kind of which is the appearance of historical apparitions. Mere-Foole prefers the classical kind, Iophpiel produces a commoner sort, namely, Henry VIII's jesters, Scogan and Skelton, who appear "in like habits, as they liu'd" (B3v). They offer to conjure Mary Ambree and Long Meg. Of Meg, Skelton says the following:

Skelton: Or Westmister Meg,

With her long leg,
As long as a Crane;
And feet like a plane:
With a paire of heeles,
As broad as two wheeles;
To driue downe the dew,
As she goes to the stew:
:nd turnes home merry
By Lambeth ferry.

Following the masque led by Proteus, there is an anti-masque in which Mary Ambree and Long Meg participate.

Non-dramatic Literature

Long Meg was a popular figure outside the playhouse who served as object lesson for moralists and satirists alike. The following is a sample of references to her and, by association, to the lost play.

Thomas Nashe, Strange News, 1592

Following a musing on Robert Greene and his fate ("He inherited more verities than vices"), Nashe turns to another contemporary (" ... a crow trodden Asse") not worthy of Greene and imagines a conversation and a toast ("this blessed cuppe of sack"), saying to the contemporary, "Yea? thy Muses foot of the twelues; old long Meg of Westminster? Then I trowe thou wilt stride ouer Greenes graue and not stumble: If you doe, wee shall come to your taking vp" (McKerrow, I.288).

Gabriel Harvey, Pierce's Supererogation, 1593

The advertisement in a 19th-century edition of the 1635 Long Meg of Westminster quotes Harvey as follows (Life)
"Phy, long Megg of Westminster would have been ashamed to disgrace her Sonday bonet with her Satterday witt. She knew some rules of decorum: and although she were a lustie bouncing rampe, somewhat like Gallemella, or maid Marian, yet was she not such a roinigh rannell, or such a dissolute gillian-flurtes, as this wainscot-faced Tomboy." (ck pp. 145-6)

Thomas Deloney, The Gentle Craft, 1597? (CLIO, part 1), 1639 (Mann ed.)

In the second part of The Gentle Craft (early date uncertain), Deloney tells the story of Richard Casteler and his two sweethearts, one of whom is Margaret of the Spread Eagle, better known as Long Meg of Westminster. Gartenberg, characterizing Deloney's version, provides a salutary lesson in our assuming that the chapbook was the sole narrative influence on the play. Here is Gartenberg's assessment of Deloney' treatment of the folk figure:
... Meg of the merry pranks is domesticated into an ordinary, rather serious young woman intent upon winning the love of, and marrying, a young apprentice. And Deloney's Meg lacks the resources to best her rival, a girl named Gillian. In the climactic scene both women stand passably in a field awaiting the apprentice, Richard Castelier, only to be disappointed when he fails to appear. Frustrated, they exchange blows. Meg loses the fight—and Castelier. when she hears that he has no intention to marry either Gillian or herself, she engages in a bit of untypical introspection:
"Wherefore is grief good? Can it recall folly past? No. Can it help a matter remediless? No. What then? Can grief make unkind men courteous? No Then wherefore should I grieve? Nay, seeing it is so, hang sorrow! I will never care for them that care not for me."
This soliloquy returns Meg to her more customary self-confidence. In the last moments of the tale, turning away from the common lot of women (marriage and children) and going her own way alone, Deloney's Meg becomes the independent woman emancipated from male rule. But the tale ends on a bleak note. Disappointed in love, Meg becomes a soldier, and eventually a woman "common to the call of every man." This was to be only the first association of Meg with prostitution (53).

William Vaughan, Golden Grove, 1600 (EEBO)

Vaughan's work is a collection of short essays on moral, religious, and secular issues. In the essay, "Of Bawds. Whether they ought to be suffered," he comments on the commercial, or "acquisitiue facultie" of bawds, and uses Long Meg as exemplar: "Some bawds haue a dozen damsels, some lesse, yet of euerie man they take largely, as 20. shillings a weeke, or tenne pound a month. It is said, that long Meg of Westminster kept alwaies 20. Courtezans in her house, whom by their pictures she sold to all commers" (P2v, P3).

William Gamage, "Linsi-Woolsie," 1613, Epigram 99 (EEBO)

All cald thee, long Megge, true; they did not miss;
If broad Megge too, they had not fail'd, I wis.

Nicholas Goodman, Hollands Leaguer, 1632 (EEBO)

In a fanciful narrative about a young woman, Britania Hollandia, starts out innocent and sweet but turns wicked. Her parents send her to the city , where (after her marriage goes poorly) she decides to set up a bawdy house. She hears of a possibly suitable place, "out of the Citie, yet in the view of the Citie, only divided by a delicate Riuer, there was many hand some building, and many hearty neighbours, yet at the first foundation, it was renowned for nothing so much as for the memory of that famous Amazon, Longa Margarita, who had there for many yeeres kept a famous infamous house of open Hospitality"(F).

Mary Tattle-well and Joane Hit-him-home, The Womens Sharpe Revenge, 1640 (EEBO)

Mary and Joane, reacting to the misogyny in their day, give over their epistle to the reader to Long Meg, who rises from the grave to defend herself and women generally. Chiding "any one who was a mothers sonne" for his "affront," she uses her own exploits to put her male adversaries down. An excerpt of the poem is given below; the entire poem is at "Long Meg Poems":
... I Margery, and for my upright stature
Long Megge: of well disposed nature,
And rather for mine honour, then least scorne
Titled from
Westminster, because there borne.
And so
Long Megge of Westminster; to heare
Our fame so branded, could no way forbeare
But rather then disgest so great a wrong,
Must to my ashes give both life and tongue. ...
Confesse thine errour, fall upon thy knees,
From us, to begge thy pardon by degrees.
Else, I that with my sword and buckler durst
Front swaggering Ruffians, put them to the worst.
Of whom, the begging souldier, when he saw
My angry brow; trembled, and stood in awe.
I that have frighted Fencers from the Stage,

(And was indeed, the wonder of mine Age)
For I have often, to abate their prides,
Cudgeld their coats, & lamm'd their legs and sides.
Cross mee no Tapster durst at any rate,
Lest I should break his Jugs about his pate.
'Tis knowne the service that I did at
Beating their French armes close unto their woollein:
They can report, that with my blows and knocks
I made their bones ake, worse then did the Pocks.
Of which King
Henry did take notice then,
And said; amongst my brave and valiant men,
I know not one more resolute, or bolder,
And would have laid his sword upon my shoulder,
But that I was a woman
Long Meg ends with a warning that her ghost will haunt the offender "Even to the grave" unless he repents: "Therefore, what's yet amisse, strive to amend,/Thou knowest thy doom, if farther thou offend."

Edmund Gayton, Pleasant Notes on Don Quixote 1654 (EEBO)

At the end of Gayton's riff on Cervantes' novel, the narrator laments that he could not find the end of Sancho's story (as he has just recounted the end of Don Quixote's), but he did find the workbooks of an old physician (perhaps John Dellues), at the end of which were "some few Epitaphs, Elegies, and fancies, upon Don Quixot, Dulcinea of Toboso, and in the praise of Rosinante and Sancho Pancha" (287). The elegy to Dulcinea is by Long Meg of Westminster, speaking herself from the grave:

I Long Meg once, the wonder of the Spinsters,
Was laid, as was my right, i'th'best of Minsters;
Nor have the Wardens ventur'd all this whiles,
To lay, except my selfe, one in those Iles.
Indeed untill this time, ne'r any one
Was worthy to be Megs Companion.
But since Toboso hath so fruitfull been,
To bring forth one might be my Sister-twinne;
Alike in breadth of face, (no Margeries
Had ever wider checks, or larger eyes)
Alike in Shoulders, Belly, and in flancks,
Alike in legs too, (for we had no shancks)
And for our feet, alike from heel to toe,
The Shoomakers the length did never know.
Lye thou by me, no more it shall be common,
One Ile of man there is, this Ile of woman.

Poor Robin's Jests, S. R. 2 February 1666, Q1666 (EEBO) Prefatory to the jests, this collection offers poetic commentary from jesters such as Scogan, player-comedians such as Richard Tarlton, and folk figures such as Long Meg. Meg's poem is as follows:

"Long-Meg of Westminster on the Book"
Amongst the men, next give a woman place too,

Who once did live in great renown and grace too;
And for being tall, and kept a filthy stir,
Men stilled me
Long-Meg of Westminster.
Many mad pranks I plaid, and many a gamble,
Whilst in this lower Orbe I had my ramble;
For which my name grew great, and thundred so,
Lowder then Cannon-shot, or Bell of
And be it known unto all Christian people,
It mounted higher far then is
That since the days
Eve woo'd our father Adam,
Was never known a stouter strapping Madam.
But now I fear as sure as Egs are Egs too,
And that mens Bodies are born by their Legs too;
These Jests puts down my fame, have me out-stripped,
As School-boys puts down hose when they are whipped

Critical Commentary

Malone makes no comment on the play (p. 296). Collier tags it as a new play, even though it is not marked by Henslowe's characteristic "ne' but rather by a "j," which Collier reads as "1" and therefore "new" ; he introduces the connection (through allusion) in Amends for Ladies (p. 49, n2). Greg II cites a few of the stationers' entries that pertain to Meg's story; picking up on Fleay's connection with the allusion in Amends for Ladies, Greg avers that the "play must have held the stage for a long time" (p.174, #68).

Gartenberg offers a sustained assessment of Meg's role in popular culture "in which she was assigned such diverse roles as those of a female Robin Hood, patriotic amazon, boon companion to celebrated men, Roaring Girl, brothel keeper—and, finally, heroine of the Reformation, worthy of burial in Westminster Abbey" (p. 49). She summarizes and analyses the episodes in Meg's life, concluding that "this wonder woman, 'famous through England for her doughty deed,' her charity toward the poor and distressed, her hatred of arrogance and hypocrisy, and her irrepressible penchant for merry pranks, was too marvelous a figure to subject to an ending as mundane as death" (p. 52). She evaluates Meg in the context of the literature of "roaring girls," and determines that Meg is "an exemplary figure, her strength, courage and independence standing for their best qualities" (p. 54). Gartenberg conjectures that the association with rougher versions of the roaring girl such as Moll Frith "tarnished Long Meg's reputation" (p. 54). As she points out, though, there was a reaction in Meg's defense, as in the preface to "The Woman's Sharp Revenge" (p. 55). Gartenberg quotes the poem in Gayton's Festive Notes to illustrate the "popular tradition" that Meg was buried in Westminster Abbey, a fiction she hears refuted in Thomas Fuller's protest in Worthies of England that no woman was buried "in the cloisters" (p. 56). Gartenberg notes with delight that as recently as 1977 the Index of the Westminster Abbey Office Guide mentioned the stone slab associated by legend with Long Meg (p. 57).

Waage, comparing Meg with Moll Frith, finds Meg the more appealing figure in part due to the "nostalgic nationalism" of Elizabethan writers for the early Tudor period . Their "idealization of Tudor monarchy" produced a Long Meg who could be associated "with a benevolent and harmonious society, hierarchically ordered, but without serious noble-bourgeois or court-city rivalries" (p. 106). He examines the lives of the characters in detail and decides that both find legitimation "socially and sexually" (p. 116).

Capp has discovered the real Long Meg in records of the Bridewell Hospital Court Books. She was Margaret Barnes (perhaps neé Cleefe), and she appears in the Bridewell records in May 1561: "Margaret Barnes otherwise called Long Megg came into this house the xvii of May for that she was accused to be a comon Bawd and desyred to come to make a purgacion But when she came, the matter was so vehemently iustified agaynst her, that she could not denye the same and so departed with sham[e] because she was before promysed to go and come safely" (qtd. from Capp, p. 303). This dark episode with the law fits into the last stage of Meg's adventures. According to the chapbook, she married and took up residence in Islington. Capp cites the marriage of Richard Barnes and Margaret Cleefe recorded in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster, on 22 November 1551 as evidence of her marriage and the appearance before the Bridewell Court as evidence that her house had indeed become a brothel, as later versions of the narrative indicated. Capp follows the trials of various women associated with Long Meg through the Bridewell Court Books, all the results of which show that the business of the house was not solely victualling.

Gurr, incorporating Waage (above), discusses "Long Meg" primarily in the context of a London and "citizen" repertory in the playhouses of the Admiral's men (pp. 194-5).

Knutson makes a couple of observations about "Long Meg" in performance: that the part "offered Edward Alleyn a fine part in drag" (p. 122), and that on the afternoons of 28 and 29 August 1595, when "Long Meg" and "Longshanks" were performed side by side, the company might have exploited the shared feature of unnatural height by casting Alleyn in these leading roles.

Syme, contesting Gurr's contention that Marlowe's plays were "the beating heart" of the Admiral's repertory (p. 171), discusses the success of "Long Meg" on stage (p. 505).

Wiggins, Catalogue #874 adjudges the play to have been new in 1591. Noting the entry in Henslowe's inventory of "Will. Sommers sewtte," Wiggins lists Henry VIII's fool as a character in Long Meg and assigns it the costume because it "is the only play in the company's [Admiral's] repertory to be set during the character's lifetime, and he features in its source material." Wiggins also considers whether the episode featuring Woolner might have been part of the play. Noting that Woolner "is a singer who eats everything put in front of him," Wiggins observes that such a routine would have been "difficult in producion ... but equally ... appreciated as a coup de theatre."

For What It's Worth

In The Womens Sharp Revenge (above), Mary Tattle-well and Joane Hit-him-home aim their revenge in 1640 specifically (though not exclusively) at John Taylor's A Juniper Lecture (1639) by their subtitle: "Or an answer to Sir Seldome Sober that writ those railing Pamphelets called the Iuniper and Crabtree Lectures, &." Taylor had several misogynistic epigrams at the end of his work with otherwise generic names of women. However, given the response of Mary and Joane in resurrecting Long Meg as their spokeswoman, perhaps the following epigram by Taylor is another allusion to the Westminster Meg:

Megge lets her Husband boast of Rule and Riches,
But she rules all the Roast, and wears the Breeches
Epigram 6 (EEBO)

Mary Umbree (or Ambree) and Moll Frith are often mentioned in the same breath as Long Meg in subsequent literature. See Peery for a representative footnote on Mary (p. 275) and Waage for Moll. These women belong to category of "roaring girls," and scholarship on any one is likely to have a word or more to say about Long Meg. A good starting place is Anthony Dawson's "Mistris Hic & Haec: Representations of Moll Frith," Studies in English Literature 33 (1993): 387-404.

Over a few years in the mid-nineteenth century (1850-2), scholars exchanged opinions in Notes & Queries on the degree of fact and and fiction in the Long Meg narrative. See Capp, 302, n1, for the citations on specific items.

Works Cited

Capp, Bernard. "Long Meg of Westminster: A Mystery Solved," Notes and Queries 45.3 (1998): 301-3.
Dekker, Thomas. The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker. ed. Richard Shepherd. 4 vols. London: J. Pearson, 1873. (Vol. II)
Dodsley, Robert, ed. A Select Collection of Old Plays. 12 vols. London: J. Nichols, 1780. (Vol. 6)
Field, Nathan. The Plays of Nathan Field. ed. William Peery. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1950. (Field)
Gamage, William. Linsi-woolsie. Or Two Centuries of Epigrams. 1613. (EEBO)
Gartenberg, Patricia. An Elizabethan Wonder Woman: The Life and Fortunes of Long Meg of Westminster. Journal of Popular Culture 17.3 (1983): 49-58.
Gayton, Edmund. Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixote, 1654. (EEBO)
Goodman, Nicholas. Hollands Leaguer, 1632. (EEBO)
Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Heywood, Thomas. The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood. 6 vols. London: John Person, 1874. (Vol. II)
Jonson, Ben. The Fortunate Isles. 1624 (EEBO)
Knutson, Roslyn L. "What was James Burbage Thinking???" Thunder at a Playhouse. eds. Peter Kanelos and Matt Kozusko. Selingsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 2010. 116-30.
Life and Death of Long Meg of Westminster, The, 1750. (EEBO)
Life of Long Meg of Westminster, The, 1635. (19thc. ed. of Bird's print)
Middleton, Thomas. Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works. eds. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007.
Nashe, Thomas. The Works of Thomas Nashe. ed. Ronald McKerrow. 5 vols. London: A. H. Bullen, 1904. (Vol. 1)
Poor Robin's Jests, 1666. (EEBO)
Syme, Holger Schott. "The Meaning of Success." Shakespeare Quarterly 61.4 (2010): 490-525.
Tattle-well, Mary and Joane Hit-him-home. The Womens Sharpe Revenge. 1640. (EEBO)
Taylor, John. A Juniper Lecture. 1639. (EEBO)
Waage, Frederick O. "Meg and Moll: Two Renaissance London Heroines." Journal of Popular Culture 20 (1986): 105-17.
Vaughan, William. The Golden-groue, moralized in three Bookes. 1600. (EEBO)

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 4 March 2012.